Elk hunting part III (the rifle)
Not an animal in sight again.The ground is dry and sign is hard to find, impossible for me to follow.No problem.I walk up a ridgeline and watch the sunrise from a red-rock throne. Spruce tree shadows appear in the meadow below, and other sunny parts begin to melt and the grass there relaxes, expands a bit.The last morning.One of the strange effects of living in hunting camp all week is that I tend to forget what normal society is all about. Where do I live down there? What do I do with my day? Do I have a job?Who knows?I sure don’t.I’ve forgotten, I think. Or else I’ve forgotten to remember, or forgotten to care I can’t tell which.There are other matters more pressing. For example, it’s the last morning and I’ve very little chance of seeing an elk.But even if I did?My view is so vast this morning that the earth seems to distend and bend around its corners, and the snow on the peaks is very, very pure and there is no snow below in the valleys. The peaks are holding their crowns above the green like benevolent kings. And for the moment they ARE kings to me, kings of a quiet society, and I swear my silent allegiance to them before heading down to pack up my tent and hustle down to the big valley, to “normal” life, to the highway, to work, and all the rest.I’m one of these people who could live this way year-round, I think, if I had a small society of people with me. I remind myself (again) that our entire continent was filled with people who lived this way until they were killed and run off in the name of something or other: God? Glory? Gold? Progress? What was it again?And this: Are we happier now than they were?Who knows?I sure don’t.”Well, Boyd,” I tell myself. “This is a different time, a different era ” and so on, and the sweat of hiking down brings me to my senses. Soon I am eager to see old friends and write again.I walk into my living room with my pack and my Rueger No. 1 .270 rifle (complete with scope). I have a few live shells in my pocket. Curious, I flip on the news. I’m still holding the barrel of my rifle when a woman in a fluorescent orange power suit announces that a man is hiding out in Washington D.C. using a .223 to kill human beings at random.Then she says that a terrorist attack has killed more than 100 people in Bali. I see a few pictures of burned-out vehicles and chaotic piles of cement.Later on I get a call that my friend, Karri Casner, has been killed in the attack in Bali.I feel kind of sick, and I wait.But I know exactly what to do.It isn’t long before I’m back on the trail, trekking through sun and trees, leaving the gun at home this time, up to my red-rock throne. I sit and peer at the bends of the earth and wait for sunset.Tom Boyd is a lifelong Vail resident and freelance writer. His work appears regularly in the Vail Trail and the Rocky Mountain News, among other publications. He can be reached for comment at (970) 390-1585 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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